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Paradise isn’t lost on stage-fright Sophia

From The Northern Echo (UK) / By Steve Pratt

In spite of film and TV roles, Sophia Myles has always steered clear of stage roles until the offer came to star in a play at Newcastle. She talks to Steve Pratt about conquering stage fright in search of Utopia

SOPHIA Myles talks of being “out of her comfort zone” in making her stage debut in Utopia at Newcastle’s Live Theatre. It’s an overused phrase bandied about by all and sundry these days to indicate doing something that challenges you or pushes you beyond your normal limits. In her case, it seems more than justified.

She has an impressive list of credits on her CV, both on TV and on film (where she embodied Lady Penelope in the live action film of Thunderbirds), but would appear to have steered clear of the theatre – she doesn’t count a very small stage role when she was 19 – for good reason.

“I suffer from terrible stage fright, which is why I haven’t done theatre before,” she says. “I was shy as a child. When my school did the nativity play, I said the only character I could possible play was the donkey because I could wear a mask over my face.

I’m frightened of big groups in general – rooms packed with people or rock concerts.”

Happily, both venues where Utopia will play – meaning Newcastle will be followed by her London stage debut – are of the smaller, intimate variety.

She did test herself beforehand by taking part in a 24-hour play-reading marathon at London’s Old Vic in November.

Steve Marmion, the director with whom she worked on that project, asked her to do Utopia. “I wasn’t looking consciously for theatre, but my agent said, ‘What do you think?’ and the Old Vic was me testing the water,” she explains.

New writing project Utopia – a Live Theatre and Soho Theatre co-production – is conceived and directed by Marmion and Max Roberts. The cast also includes comedian Rufus Hound in his stage debut, and one of Live’s founders David Whittaker, fresh from appearances in The Pitmen Painters.

The writing team behind Utopia are Michael Chaplin, Zoe Cooper, Thomas Eccleshare, Alistair McDowall, Dylan Moran, Anthony Neilson, Janice Okoh, Simon Stephens and Chi Onwurah MP. The productions will also include material from the works of Sir Thomas More, William Shakespeare and Adolf Hitler.

The production continues the artistic collaboration of the two theatres following A Walk On Part, which transfers to the West End Arts Theatre on June 18.

The press release for Utopia describes the piece in the following terms: “Six clowns in a world of blueprints in search of Utopia. From spaceships and retirement homes, to political rallies and Facebook.

No stone has been left unturned in our collaborative quest for paradise.”

Fair enough, but what exactly is it about? Myles isn’t entirely sure. “To be honest, I’m flummoxed,” she says. “It’s a combination of different things, eight different plays within one play. I really honestly don’t know how to describe it.

“You ask the question ‘what is Utopia?’ and everyone has a different opinion. For everyone going away from the play, whether you are in the audience or one of the actors, I think it will resonate on a different level.”

She plays six or seven different people, from a wise fool to a housewife and Ukrainian refugee. The cast of eight are dressed as clowns with white face paint. She thinks she’ll be wearing T-shirt and boxer shorts with an added piece of costume for each different character.

“I like a challenge,” says Myles – and Utopia certainly seems to be that, as much for the audience as the cast. “I accepted the job not having seen the script and it’s very challenging. There’s lots of music and dancing, although I made it clear I don’t sing, not even in the shower at home.”

She’s not complaining, saying its “good sometimes to have a firework up your bum”. She feels comfortable in film and TV after doing it for 17 years and wanted something new.

HER career began when she was spotted as a 16-year-old by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes in a school production and cast in a BBC production of The Prince And The Pauper.

Her involvement in school plays had nothing to do with a burning ambition to act. “I was secretly desperately in love with my drama teacher – that’s why I did drama. Acting was not part of my grand vision,” she says.

More roles followed the BBC series, leading her to drop out of university – she was studying philosophy at Cambridge – and pursue acting. Roles on big and small screens on both sides of the Atlantic followed including Nicholas Nickleby, Colditz and Doctor Who (as Madame Pompadour) on TV, and Thunderbirds, Art School Confidential and Tristan & Isolde on film.

She caught the acting bug once she started working.

“I loved being on film sets. I loved the people and the creative energy. That’s very inspirational and uplifting – and where the buzz came from, the process of the work itself.”

She has made films in the US, where she starred in the TV series Moonlight, about a private investigator who’s also a vampire. She played reporter and love interest Beth Turner, then returned here to play another Beth – Beth Bailey – in the final series of BBC1’s Spooks.

“Doing Moonlight was amazing. I was working at Warner Brothers studios every day. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work there in the epicentre of Hollywood,” she says.

“I will definitely be going back. Hollywood has always been incredibly welcoming to me. I’ve tried to have a balance of doing jobs here around the world.”

She’s worked in the US since I was 21, but never thought of living there for good. “In my heart I never left. England is my home. I had to relocate for the TV series, but the moment I finished working I’ve always come back to England. I only want to be there when I’m working. There’s nothing to do there unless you’re working,” she says.

Utopia: Live Theatre, Newcastle, From today until June 16. Box Office 0191-2321232 and

Filed in Press

Stage role spooked me, says Sophia Myles

From Evening Standard (UK) / By Louise Jury

SPOOKS star Sophia Myles says taking to the stage provoked “immense fear”.

She is about to make her West End debut after testing the waters by taking part in the Old Vic’s 24 Hour Play fundraiser.

The 32-year-old actress joins the cast of new play Utopia at the Soho Theatre.

Discovered by Julian Fellowes in a school play in Isleworth, she is better known for TV and films such as Thunderbirds, Underworld and Hallam Foe.

Myles, who lives in Queen’s Park, said you had to face your fears “to evolve”. Speaking in rehearsals, she said Utopia was “funny but thought-provoking”. It runs from June 20 to July 14.

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Doctor Who: Who’s That Girl?

From Daily Star (UK) / By Peter Dyke and Katie Begley

SEXY Sophia Myles is being tipped as the Time Lord’s next companion after a cheeky tease on Twitter. BBC bosses are keeping tight-lipped about the identity of the new sidekick for The Doc (Matt Smith). But series boss Steven Moffat’s tweet about Thunderbirds big screen star Sophia has set tongues wagging that she has been lined up.

Moffat, 50, tweeted: “Right EVERY­BODY who follows me, go and follow @SophiaMyles – spin that fireplace. NOW.

“I’ll explain later. Or not.”

A new girl is set to take over this year from Karen Gillan, who plays sidekick Amy Pond.

And Sophia has a big link to the BBC sci-fi series because she app­eared as The Doc’s love interest Madame de Pompadour in the 2006 episode The Girl In The Fireplace.

Sophia, 31, also dated former Doctor David Tennant, 40.

Meanwhile, Karen, 24, has stepped back in time for her role as supermodel Jean Shrimpton in a BBC4 drama.

The flame-haired actress will star in We’ll Take Manhattan on Jan­uary 26.

It will explore the relationship between the model, now 69, and famous photographer David Bailey to whom she said she owed her career. Karen said of the role: “Jean Shrimpton is an icon of the Sixties.

“I am so excited to be playing somebody who had such a lasting impact on the fashion world. Sixties here I come!

“I guess there is more pressure on me over this role because part of me thinks I should stay true to what this person actually was.

“And they’re still alive, which is quite a significant thing as well, because they’re going to see how you portray them.”

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Crook, Horne, Bhaskar & Cole Line Up for Old Vic 24 Hour


The Old Vic has announced the line-up for this year’s 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala, which will take place on Sunday 13 November 2011.

The event, now in its eighth year, sees established actors, writers and directors come together to create a series of six short plays in the space of 24 hours.

The event raises funds for The Old Vic Theatre Trust and its work, through Old Vic New Voices, to mentor the next generation of creative talent.

Cast confirmed to date include: Jane Asher, Nancy Carroll, Lily Cole, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Brendan Coyle, Mackenzie Crook, Lisa Dillon, Freddie Fox, Robert Glenister, Anthony Head, Ruthie Henshall, Mathew Horne, David Horovitch, Gina McKee, Sophia Myles, Katherine Parkinson, Julian Sands, Rachael Stirling, Isy Suttie and Indira Varma.

Hosted by comedian and actor Rob Brydon, the event is an evening of “never to be seen again performances”.

The team of actors will be working with directors including Tom Cairns, Simon Godwin, Tamara Harvey, Josie Rourke and Charlie Westenra, and writers Amy Rosenthal, Jack Thorne and Roy Williams.

The event kicks off at 10pm on Saturday 12 November when the actors, writers and directors meet at The Old Vic for the first time. Following overnight script writing and a day of intensive rehearsals and line-learning six brand new plays are unveiled on the Sunday night to the Gala audience.

To buy £250 and £125 tickets, call the Gala Hotline 020 7401 9280 or email To buy £75 tickets, call the Box Office on 0844 871 7628.

Filed in Press

Beth guns for glory

from The Mirror (UK) / by Jane Simon


Spooks BBC1, 9pm

If you’re ever interviewed for a job at Section D and they ask: “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” the only correct answer must be: “Dead, most probably.”

And yet Beth Bailey is ever so keen to join. Good thing, too, because actress Sophia Myles is already proving to be a most exciting addition to the Spooks team.

When we first met her last week she was a mercenary cunningly disguised as an Eastern European prostitute, until she broke cover to save Lucas North’s life.

Tonight, in her first job for Section D, she’s undercover again and dodging a hail of machine-gun fire after MI5 get a tip-off that a British oil baron is the subject of an assassination attempt.

That’s another thing Section D doesn’t do – ease new employees in gradually. Has Beth had the Health and Safety talk from HR? Has anyone even shown her where the ladies’ loos are? I doubt it.

It’s just, “Right, in you go, love. Here’s your hidden earpiece. Now go try and sniff out the potential assassin in a crowded lift.”

Still, Beth can handle herself pretty well and her colleagues are about to discover there’s even more to her than meets the eye.

Also joining the show is former Strictly star and Footballers’ Wife Laila Rouass. Lucas (or John, as we might have to start calling him) opens the briefcase that his mysterious old “friend” left him last week and decides to look up an ex-girlfriend named Maya.

It turns out that Horizon isn’t the only programme tonight where people are going to return from the dead…